Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Air Conditioning filters in our homes and businesses tend to be an item we seldom think about until the unit breaks down. Originally, the main purpose for the filter was to keep the equipment free of dirt that would cause failures in the heating and cooling system.

Changing your ac filter regularly is good as it uses less energy - because your unit doesn’t have to work as hard - which in turn helps the environment and saves you money.

A win win all the way around!

In recent years, the benefits of breathing clean air in our homes have become more obvious for our health. I read one time that we breathe between 30,000 to 35,000 pints of air daily. That’s a lot of air!

Anyway, the questions that come to mind are:
1. Exactly how many foreign bodies are in this air that we consume?
2. How are these foreign bodies affecting our health?
3. What can we do to reduce our side effects?
The air filter in our heating and cooling system is the only source for cleaning the air we breathe inside our home.

What’s inside our home also affects our health!
Do you have pets?
How about cleaning chemicals?
Think about just a few everyday items we use around our homes:
aerosol deodorant
hair spray
air sanitizers/fresheners
How do we get clean air?

Air conditioning filters help to clean air inside our homes. There are four different types and here is a picture of three of the four:

1. Basic Air Filters

They are the fiberglass type you can typically see through. Some of them are really transparent and some and not so transparent. These filters remove the largest particles before they get to the air conditioning unit and the associated coils inside.

I have seen these in both blue and white. I am sure they also come in many other colors. What I find interesting about these filters are no where on the packaging do any of these filters specify what the smallest particle the filter will stop.

Some of the air conditioning filters have a sticky substance applied to catch the particles. None of the filters are reusable either by washing or vacuuming. The old one is simply thrown away and a new one installed in it’s place.

This picture shows how thin a fiberglass filter is because you can see the flashlight through it:

This picture shows how thin a fiberglass filter is because you can see the flashlight through it.

These filters should be checked frequently for dust accumulation. Also, you should set up a schedule when to replace the filter. I would change them the first of every month. Most older air conditioning systems were installed using these filters and they are better than nothing. Furnaces also use the same type of filter in the unit right in front of the blower. Have you changed yours recently?

2. Pleated Design Filters

These filters are the most popular filters today in the throw away style. They have the filter material folded into an accordion style to provide more filter surface and thus more efficiency. They tend to be reasonably priced and efficient.

Name brands tend to advertise a specific feature such as allergen removal or dust free environment. Check to see if the additional cost bears out these claims before you buy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they work as advertised. I’m just not sure of the benefits.

If you have an older air conditioning unit, the pleated design may not be compatible with your system as the reduced air flow, due to the increased filtration, may not allow your fan motor to work correctly and result in a repair bill to replace the burned out fan motor.

3. Reusable Electrostatic Air Filters

These filters use the force of the air across the filter material to induce an electrostatic charge that will catch and trap the airborne particles. They do cost more. However they are reusable.

I have used these in the past and have been satisfied with the results. My problem was the universal size and having to make the frames to fit a specific application.

4. Electronic Filters

It is a new type of filter. We had one installed in our home last year. It will trap 99.98% of allergens from filtered air or particles even smaller than .1 micron. A micron is about 1/25,400 of an inch. As a reference, a human hair is 100 times larger.
It uses a high voltage to charge the air flow that traps the particles in a metallic core. This core is cleaned on a scheduled basis or whenever the indicator specifies it must be cleaned. I currently clean the one in our home every six months.

We have two cats and the new filtration system is a vast improvement over the old system.
There are many different types of air conditioning filters. You must determine that the type you chose will fit your application and satisfy your needs.

***To help you clean out your AC filters, CLICK HERE for one free $500 Home Depot Gift Card :)

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